Hire for Passion to Drive Performance
Every person who joins your business, especially in the early stages, will be a key part of bringing your vision to life. Although they need to come with skills to contribute, their passion for the work and your mission may be even more important than specific know-how.
Deloitte’s Center for the Edge looked at a broad range of industries and organizations to identify people who make the greatest contributions to performance improvements. The secret, they found, was passion. It was especially true in environments characterized by unpredictability, constant change and disruption — adjectives often used to describe the start-up space.
While getting in on the ground floor of a growing company is exciting, you need people who can navigate the highs and lows and embrace the ride. Learning how to look for and cultivate what Deloitte calls the “passion of the explorer,” can help you hire team members more likely to take your business to the next level.
Predictable or passionate
Although most organizations have long valued predictable team members who do what’s expected, Deloitte’s research argues that such an emphasis tends to punish the kind of experimentation, tolerance for failure and passion that is needed to help organizations succeed in dynamic environments.
Explorers can be frustrated in traditional corporate settings organized around formal systems, entrenched hierarchies and narrowly defined roles and processes. They are drawn to working environments where they have an opportunity to learn quickly and make a significant impact. That can make them a particularly good fit for the start-up world where team members often perform diverse duties, must take initiative and perform more independently, and where a rapid test and revise approach is embraced.
Deloitte developed a detailed profile of common attributes shared by employees who show the greatest passion for their work. Knowing them can help you spot them in would-be hires. They include:
- A desire to have a lasting and increasing impact. Although we might think of an Explorer as quickly bored and ready for their next adventure, Deloitte found these employees to have a strong commitment to continued work in an area or with an organization where they can build maximum impact over time. This dedication enables them to generate cumulative learning as they constantly seek, develop and test innovative new practices.
- The desire to go above and beyond core responsibilities. Described as a “questing disposition,” these workers constantly push the boundaries to identify new opportunities, learn new skills and use resources in new ways that might improve performance.
“When you’re confronted with a challenge, if you have a questing disposition, your immediate reaction is to get excited about it,” explains John Hagel, Co-Chair of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, in a company video. “Not every organization seeks or welcomes such an approach, but those that do can benefit greatly from team members who are quickly dissatisfied with the status quo.”
- A desire to connect with others to share ideas. Passionate explorers are not content to keep their ideas and insights to themselves, or to assume theirs are the only ideas worth considering. They want to interact with others who share their interests and seek out experts in other areas who will help them spark new ideas and build new knowledge and work together toward solutions.
“We believe most companies today are organized in a way that makes them deeply suspect of this kind of passion,” Hagel adds. “They want predictability, reliability and somebody who can follow instructions. And failure is not an option. The challenge for companies is to realize that, if they really want to drive performance improvement, they need to nurture and cultivate this kind of passion.”
Interviewing for passion
When interviewing potential team members, explore their passion for their work and how much your vision resonates with them with question like:
- How do you stay current in your field and get new ideas?
- What sorts of problems do you like to solve?
- How do you connect with other people in your field?
- What is a significant insight or learning you gained from failure?
- What excites you about this role?
- How would you define or design this role to make it more effective?
- What do you think we could be doing better?
In lean start-ups, every team member’s impact is magnified. Relevant skills are important, but finding people who are all-in on the vision of the company and passionate about their contribution may be the real game changers.